Every athlete at the University of Maryland would be tested at least three times for drugs next school year and an athletic department official would observe the taking of tests to prevent cheating under a proposed plan, Associate Athletic Director Randy Hoffman said yesterday.

Drug testing as a part of an annual physical exam would be discontinued and coaches would not be notified in advance of the random testing, as they were for some tests last season, Hoffman said. He said the testing would occur in season and out of season.

Both Hoffman and Tim Gilmore, executive assistant to Chancellor John B. Slaughter, said after a meeting yesterday that they expected the revised policy to go to Slaughter for approval within a week.

Maryland initiated drug testing during the 1985-86 school year. Hoffman said discussions about tightening the procedures began with health center director Dr. Margaret Bridwell before the cocaine-induced death on June 19 of basketball star Len Bias and revelations that at least one player turned in another's urine sample.

In another development, it was learned that at a meeting of the basketball team two weeks ago, Coach Lefty Driesell told players his job was on the line and they had to concentrate on improving their academic performance.

Emerging from Slaughter's office after a 45-minute meeting -- in which Driesell's job was not discussed, according to Slaughter -- Driesell said, "I'm not talking to you, I'm not talking to anybody."

Slaughter says he meets about 15 times a year with Driesell and football coach Bobby Ross and characterized yesterday's meeting as "a very positive discussion . . . about a number of things related to recruiting and the status of the team for next year."

He said he was concerned about the emotional state of the basketball team in the aftermath of Bias' death. "You can't avoid talking about individuals, but I just wanted to know how the players were doing," Slaughter said. "I've been concerned for some time about their emotional status as a result of all this."

It also was learned that two members of the University Counseling Center met with the team last week without Driesell present. Slaughter said he was not aware of that meeting but "I had encouraged counseling people to talk to them."

Slaughter said he did not plan to wait until the task forces studying drug use on campus and the academic problems of athletes completed their work before he decides whether to implement either policy or personnel changes.

If Slaughter were to make personnel changes, at what stage would he do so? "The moment I know that it's necessary," he said.

Earlier in the day, during a regularly scheduled media session, Slaughter said, "The other thing we're following is the deliberations of the grand jury. While it's far too early to have a feel for what's going to emerge from that, it is a very vital part of the overall picture."

Slaughter said Athletic Director Dick Dull and William Kirwan, vice chancellor for academic affairs, met last week to open discussions on Slaughter's decision to move management of the academic support unit from the athletic department to the academic sector.

Slaughter and Dull indicated yesterday they want the transition to be completed by the start of the fall semester.

The task forces' work will not be finished before the end of September and Slaughter said he doesn't want to wait another year to implement policy changes. "Now it is clear we need to do more than pontificate about it," he said.

Dull said his initial discussions with Kirwan lead him to believe the new structure of the academic support staff "will involve a dual role of this department as well as the Office of Academic Affairs. But, beyond that, it hasn't taken any definite concrete form."

Slaughter also said he plans to meet next week with the coaches of Maryland's 22 varsity sports.

"We're going to talk about how we can make it even more clear that there are things other than winning 20 games in basketball and nine games in football that are not only among the set of expectations, but a priority," he said. "All of us take pride in a winning record, but I know for a fact it is possible to take even greater pride to know you're doing everything possible to see to it that student-athletes are receiving the quality education this institution can provide."

Slaughter also said he wants the NCAA Presidents Commission, which he chairs, to put the issue of freshman eligibility on the convention floor in January, although he said it still is likely freshmen will not be ruled ineligible before 1988, if then. However, he said it was possible that a conference or group of conferences could act sooner.